The Top Ways to Build an Effective Offshore Accounting Team
Koda Capital, an Australian-based investment management firm, was considering remote staffing to support their business expansion. But before going down that road, Koda Capital’s co-founder Andrew Rutherford relates their initial apprehensions about it. “We had the same concerns that people have about any new staff working away from the office: Can we trust that they’re going to be working? Will our data be kept safe? Are they going to protect the company’s interests?”
Their fears were dispelled when they went through the discovery process with offshore service provider AS White Global. “When you actually visit the offices,” said Andrew, “You quickly realise that your concerns were a tad overblown. The office, security, and the technology are all good – they’re all more sophisticated than I had expected and better than a lot of places we see at home.”
Financial institutions have much to gain in outsourcing a variety of functions to an offshore service provider. Whether it’s a start-up firm or a more established organisation, offshoring can support your company’s plans of rapid growth and improve efficiencies in business operations.
Here are some tips to help you build an efficient remote team for offshore accounting services
Be strategic with your choice of offshore staff
Offshoring gives you access to a wider pool of highly skilled talent to build a customised remote team for you. Be fully prepared with your requirements: what kind of technical skills, finance-related expertise and work experience are you looking for? It’s also crucial that your candidates should have excellent soft skills in communication, creative-thinking, and problem solving on top of their technical skillset.
Speed and accuracy via automation is the name of the game for financial organisations. Future-proof your offshore accounting services by finding talent with certified Xero, MYOB, SAP expertise and other popular software programs.
An offshore staff provider will then do a deep dive into your business and staff requirements. Aside from recruiting talent, they will guide you in making the right decisions when you make your selection and do an onboarding session with you and the remote staff for a smooth integration.
In Koda Capital’s case, Andrew advises, “Go and hire someone who’s 25% above what you need because they will then build a team around them. And the productivity benefit you get out of the total team as a result of having that strong team leader who’s got the English communication skills, who’s got the problem-solving skills, is way worth the small premium you’d pay for their services.”
Start with small tasks then review the results and performance
Familiarise your offshore accounting staff with your business: the expected level of work quality in your organisation, the company culture and ethics, and the skillsets in your firm. Start out by delegating small projects to the offshore accounting team. Evaluate the results of their work to see if they meet your expectations. Proceed with assigning more complex tasks if you’re satisfied with the outcomes. Apply remote team management techniques to motivate and communicate with them, keeping in mind their work experience as they perform their duties.
Use the right tools and techniques for collaboration
Managing your projects with a remote team presents a different set of challenges. To overcome them, make sure you and your offshore accounting team use the appropriate tools to share ideas, track their progress, and provide support as they work on their tasks.
As you and your offshore team are building a relationship together, it’s important to gain their trust and vice-versa. That’s why your involvement in the recruitment process is crucial. You’ve selected your offshore staff based on their capabilities and expertise to deliver your expectations. They will look to your guidance and support as a leader to stay engaged in their roles. As Andrew noted, “We didn’t go down a path of micromanaging and surveillance, and we didn’t need to. We got to know our staff really well, and we trust them.”
Do goal-setting with your offshore team
Just like with your in-house staff, you should have the same goal-setting sessions with your offshore accounting team. This will keep them focussed in fulfilling your business goals. Knowing their specific goals will also help them to stay motivated and engaged, leading to better productivity and improved efficiencies. Setting goals for your offshore team also serves as a key factor in supporting their learning and development to achieve a higher performance level.
Maintain regular communication
Keep your communication channels open to maintain your connection with your offshore accounting staff. Make sure you have the right tools to communicate with them remotely. Set a regular schedule not only to discuss work-related matters but also to touch base with them on a personal level. This helps boost their morale and increase their sense of belonging.
To help them further understand the business, include offshore staff in your internal communications (whilst ensuring strict compliance with your data security policies) so they’ll stay updated on the company’s situation with real-time data. This will also help your offshore accounting staff with high-level functions in their strategy planning for risk management, corporate development, and other aspects of your business.
For Koda Capital and their offshore staff, Andrew relates, “We’ve been using Zoom now for a number of years. Initially, we used it to facilitate communication between our Australian offices and make sure everyone felt connected. And so having the teams up in Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur come onboard, it really wasn’t a lot different to dealing with someone interstate – the methodology, the management style is exactly the same whether it’s Sydney to Melbourne, or Sydney to Ho Chi Minh.”
Strengthen the bond with team building
To maintain a healthy relationship, find time to engage in team-building activities with your remote accounting team. There are plenty of online resources on how to conduct team-building sessions with your offshore staff. You can also ask for recommendations from your offshore account manager on the best team-building practices.
Accounting and other finance-related functions for offshoring
Aside from back-office and administrative work, these are among the most in-demand offshore accounting services:
- Accounts Payable
- Accounts Receivable
- Broker Support
- Tax Compliance
- Fund management
For Koda Capital, Andrew explains their offshore staff set-up, “We have a remote team (in Vietnam) doing accounts payable, accounts receivable, management reporting, payroll, all payment preparation and treasury – and it’s worked stunningly well for over two years now. In Kuala Lumpur, they’re doing client admin, filling application forms, and completing client records. We have thought about using the teams offshore to directly engage directly with clients electronically as we continue to expand our offshore use.”
Building an Offshore Global Team with AS White Global
AS White Global’s expertise in providing offshore staff solutions has given Andrew and his co-founders more confidence in choosing them as Koda Capital’s offshoring partner. As Andrew noted, “ASW’s ability to really lock things down and ensure tight security, certainly works for those firms that need that because of regulatory requirements or the work being performed in these offshore offices.”
For those who may feel hesitant in exploring offshore staffing options, Andrew has this to say, “Don’t be held back by your fears because 99% of the time, they’re simply not real. Our own experience has actually worked incredibly well, and way better than we could’ve possibly hoped before we started.”